After Aortic Valve Replacement
After aortic valve replacement surgery, you will be transported to the intensive care unit where your condition will be closely monitored. Most people stay in intensive care for the first 24 to 48 hours after aortic valve replacement surgery. After you leave the intensive care unit, you will probably spend several days in a hospital room designated for people recovering from heart surgery.
After Aortic Valve Replacement: Moving to the Intensive Care Unit
At the end of the aortic valve replacement surgery, you will be transported directly to the intensive care unit. Here, you will be with other patients and your healthcare providers will monitor your condition closely.
As you slowly wake up, you might begin to feel some discomfort in your chest and throat. Several catheters and tubes will still be in place, including your breathing tube. You will probably be aware of these and they may feel uncomfortable. This is normal. Your healthcare team is aware of these possible feelings, and will attempt to minimize your discomfort.
Many specially trained doctors and healthcare professionals qualified in intensive care medicine will be assisting you in your recovery.
After aortic valve replacement, your doctor will discuss your surgery with your family or friends who accompanied you to the hospital, and they will be able to visit you at scheduled times in your intensive care room. They should be prepared to see you surrounded by monitors and tubes, such as the breathing tube, and connected to special equipment.
The breathing tube and special breathing equipment are necessary following the surgery. As you begin to wake up from the anesthesia, you might find that breathing through it is uncomfortable at first; however, as you become more used to it, this should improve. The breathing tube will be removed as soon as your healthcare providers feel that you can breathe on your own. This will vary with your individual situation, and it can be as soon as 6 to 8 hours after surgery, but more commonly is the next day.
You will receive medications to:
- Relieve your pain and discomfort
- Help your heart beat stronger or more effectively
- Prevent infections.
X-rays and blood tests will be performed to monitor your progress. You will eventually be encouraged to sit up in a chair, as well as eat and drink.
If your aortic valve replacement and immediate recovery goes well, most of the tubes and special equipment will be removed within the first 24 to 48 hours. This is approximately how long your stay in the ICU will be. However, it is possible that your stay may be longer, depending on the following:
- Your health
- The outcome of your surgery
- Your ability to recover.